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Poster: Capt. Cook Date: Apr 12, 2011 8:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Hey Monte???

So what gives Europe 72 that certain sound? Is it the recording equipment, and the tapes used, the fact every show was recorded on the same excellent equipment? Or was it the instruments used, were they unique to this tour? You care hear glimpses in the March Shows - but listen to the first Wembley show, and as Cliff says, they were locked into that Europe sound from the beginning. I tend to think it was the great equipment used to record these shows that brings a special flavor. Geoff Emerick in his great Beatles book always talked about the Abbey Road album having a "Soft" sound due to the new board installed before the album. SBD's from September of 72 do not sound as deep or as clear as these recordings...

This post was modified by Capt. Cook on 2011-04-13 03:01:33

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 13, 2011 2:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

The gear they used on that tour may have contributed to that particular sound; it would have been the same through the tour. As for the tapes, I think most of our copies come from the 2-tracks actually (not the 16-tracks) - but Betty would have overseen recording those as well, so they would have been expertly mixed.
If you don't like the Sept '72 tapemixes, blame Bear - he recorded those!

As for what explains the huge jump in playing quality between March & April '72, or for that matter how they stayed on that high level through May, presumably without any rehearsals between shows, now that's a mystery.

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2011-04-13 09:38:56

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Poster: CharlieMiller Date: Apr 13, 2011 5:04am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

Europe 72 was also recorded onto 10 inch - 2 track reels by Betty.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Apr 13, 2011 4:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

Somewhat formulaic nature of the first sets a la May '77?

Relaxed nature of the tour, which was described at times like a family vacation? (although that did not work so well in Egypt a few years later)

Inspiration by the old music halls that they were playing in? This may have also contributed to the sound i suppose.

Seems like there are lots of possible reasons why these shows were so tight. I still think there are individual shows in '71 and summer/fall '72 that are as enjoyable if not more so, but at no point could you match the consistency of this tour.

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Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Apr 13, 2011 4:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

"As for what explains the huge jump in playing quality between March & April '72, or for that matter how they stayed on that high level through May, presumably without any rehearsals between shows, now that's a mystery."

That has been attribted to "Hypnocracy"

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Apr 13, 2011 8:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

Nice reference Cliff. Hunter still moving forward:

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Poster: hseamons Date: Apr 12, 2011 8:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

I think it's because Europe '72 was on 16-track and September '72 was on 2-track. Not sure.

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Apr 13, 2011 9:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

Bear! and Ampex!

Bear's interview with David Gans in 1991 reveals plenty about audio technology and GD's early experiences with sound systems and taping. David Gans' Dead to The World radio program just broadcast on KPFA radio 2 hours of excerpts from this interview. Gans' program aired on March 30, 2011. KPFA's (and Pacifica Radio) archives are streaming this material on their web site until today. I just put a copy on The Archive. Thank You Pacifica!

I had an e-mail conversation with Bear on Sept 17, 2009:

Monte: hey Bear,

Thanks for "everything," man. Thanks to you and GD, I ended up having a career in electronics and pro audio/video. I made a good living on that. But first, I was a soundman for 3 years thanks to you. I got on the bus in 1972. My first time Taping was GD - RFK Stadium - June 9 & 10, 1973 - front-of-board. The Boys and Your amazing Sound Crew set the bar for the most incredible sound I ever heard come out of a PA system.

Bear, how about a little help on a few facts? We would like to have a brief rundown on what went down as Ron Wickersham was quitting Ampex, and you and him were forming Alembic. I took Susan's version of Alembic's history, and reposted it on The Internet Archive. I added to what she wrote by pointing out some of Ampex's history. I worked for Ampex 1979 - 1984.

Bear: I met Ron (and Susan) at Pacific Recording in 1968 where the band was recording Aoxomoxoa. He had, so far as I remember, already left Ampex. I know nothing about his Ampex time.

Monte: A knowledgeable fellow [Earl B. Powell] just posted that it was you who started Alembic, and not actually Ron. He wrote, "Susan's history, although accurate fails to include the "spark" or the original concept behind the company which came directly from Owsley, his work with the band and the constant refining of audio technology. In fact he named the enterprise "Alembic" essentially defined as a "crucible" of ideas, after the base definition of a vessel used in alchemy."

Bear: Yes. The Alembicus is a Alchemist's glass vessel closely resembling the modern chemist's glass retort. It was used to affect the decomposition, reduction, distillation and 'perfection' of the base materials- the idea is that of transformation 'lead into gold', which of course was not what it was about at all, it was used as part of a method for achieving the goal of transformation of the human spirit by practice and study from 'corruption' into purity. At heart Alchemy is wholly atheistic and thus they used the 'lead into gold' simile to hold the church at bay- avarice is a very powerful motivator.

Monte: [Earl B. Powell also posted] "Bear had an inventor's lab at the band's practice area and offices and persuaded Wickersham to leave Ampex and work solely on Grateful Dead projects. The day Wickersham showed up for work was the same day that Lenny Hart began managing the band. He fired Wickersham, so Bear, in fear of losing Ron, started a separate company which became Alembic."

Bear: I did not have any such 'lab'. No, Ron had nothing to do with Ampex, having left them some time before. He worked for a while with them on recording projects, but was never 'hired' by the band, so Lenny Hart had nothing to do with him. I brought Rick Turner, a maker of acoustic guitars together with Ron and suggested they form Alembic to work on sound systems and to make fine modern guitars and basses. I did not want or accept a position or stake in the company because I had my hands full with the band. Susan and Rick do not get along and she is adamant about refusing him co-founder status in her 'history', which is in my opinion misleading and a disregard for the true history of the enterprise. I remain good friends with all of them.
From the Press Release: "As a hedge against the costs of the nearly two-month trip, the Dead’s label, Warner Bros., paid for the band to lug around a 16-track recorder to capture the entire Europe '72 tour… and we’re glad they did!"

Ron Wickersham was transforming an Ampex MM-1000 16-track tape deck from its unwieldy flat transport with eight tracks on top and eight tracks below into a video transport that would accommodate the 14" reels as well as redesign it to 30ips to improve the sound quality and reduce the drop-out rate. The engineers at Ampex thought this was a pretty cool idea...

Grateful Dead recording studio & Ampex tape decks

Grateful Dead's recording studio in 1977:
the patch field bay is shown on the far left of the photo below
dual Ampex MM-1100 16-track decks are shown with an Ampex AG-440 2-track deck nested between them
the audio DAs (distribution amplifiers) and their patch panel is to the right of the studio's patch bay
the tape decks' remote control console is in the center foreground

Monte's Taper Handbook

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Apr 13, 2011 12:34pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte - in honor of Bear, Pigpen, and Jerry

Monte's taper highlight reel - featuring 2 songs from each circulated show that I taped
play audio stream - 4 hours, 15 minutes, 54 seconds


Grateful Dead - June 9, 1973
Eyes of the World - 11:42
Sugar Magnolia - 8:23

Grateful Dead - June 10, 1973
Here Comes Sunshine - 11:48
Dark Star - 26:21

Newgrass Jam - April 7, 1974
Vassar's Boogie - 3:14, Vassar Clements
Steam Powered Aereoplane - 4:02, John Hartford newgrass ensemble

Central Park Sheiks - May 15, 1974
Protoype Computer - 1:49
Lady Be Good - 4:33

Josh Graves band w/ Vassar Clements - July 20, 1974
band intro - 00:47
The Year Clayton Delaney Died - 3:24
Great Big Woman and a Little Bitty Bottle of Wine - 3:19

Norman Blake solo act - July 20, 1974
Bully in the Town - 4:44
Sweet Heaven - 3:54

Vassar Clements w/ Josh Graves & boys - July 20, 1974
Cincinnati Rag - 2:29
Black Mountain Rag - 4:06

Hillbilly Jazz w/ Vassar Clements & Doug Jernigan - April 4, 1975
Little Rock Getaway - 2:21
C Jam Blues - 3:49

Hillbilly Jazz w/ Vassar Clements & Doug Jernigan - April 5, 1975
Deep Elem Blues - 4:14
Allman Bros instrumental - 6:33

Bluegrass Alliance w/ Vince Gill - Sept 23, 1975
Sittin' on Top of the World - 4:08
Paradise - 5:17

Newgrass Revival - Sept 28, 1975
band intro - 1:27
Fly Through the Country - 7:35
Crooked Smile - 10:01

Boone Creek w/ Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill - March xx, 1976
Take Me Back to Tulsa - 4:28
Sally Goodin' - 8:02

Lazy River w/ Vince Gill - August 15, 1976
Milk Cow Blues - 5:19
Cowboy Song - 4:47

Scotty's Steel Guitar Convention - Labor Day weekend, Sept 1976
Georgia on My Mind - 7:22, Curly Chalker on pedal steel
The Great Stream - 6:25, Buddy Emmons on pedal steel

Lazy River w/ Mark O' Connor at age 15 - Oct 1, 1976
Cotton Patch Rag & Beaumont Rag - 6:03, Mark O'Connor guitar
Friend of the Devil > Blackberry Blossom - 16:30, Mark O'Connor violin

Lazy River - Oct 25, 1976
Take The A-Train - 4:50
Look Away - 4:54

Arabesque - July 31, 1980
Watch What Happens - 4:40
Stockton Blues - 10:10

Arabesque - Oct 25, 1980
Breezin' - 6:21
Blue Bossa - 6:27

Van Manakas quartet - March 1, 1984
Jovanna - 8:58
band intro - 00:29
untitled song - 9:45

Billy for President rap - 00:23

Some unusual reels of uncirculated old timey dance music pulled from my vault today, to honor The Bear, Pigpen, and Jerry. These tapes I recorded are among my earliest surviving SBD reels.

3 punks from NJ: they are me taping Van and Eric!

Stoney Creek bluegrass band @ the Pickin' Parlor - 4 sets were played
New Haven, Conn - March 9, 1974

a few tunes from set 3 - running time, 12:58

Old time Irish medley:
Cooley's Cup of Tea, Rathcrouchan
Eric Levine (age 21) on violin, Van Manakas (age 20) on guitar

Old timey medley, twin fiddles:
Saddle Up the Grey, Old Hog Eye, Uncle Joe

Old timey medley, twin fiddles:
Liberty, 8th of January

SBD > Nakamichi 550 w/ Dolby NR
Advent Chromium Dioxide C-90 cassettes

MR > Nakamichi LX-3 > Samplitude

Stoney Creek dance music was taped, transferred, and remastered by Monte Barry
released on April 13, 2011

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Apr 13, 2011 8:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Hey Monte???

both Bob and Jerry were playing single coil instruments, which lent this certain chimey, very tonally overlapping quality in their playing, this sound really only occured in 1972, soon after Jerry went from Strat to the Wolf and Bob picked up double coil semi hollow bodies...Lesh was getting into the big alembic basses...